The past two books that I finished definitely seem to have a theme to them. They are both very focused on teenage romantic relationships, especially those between straight and gay characters, and they kind of presented two sides of one coin, and it was interesting to read them back to back.
The first book I read was Love Drugged by James Klise. Love Drugged follows the story of 15-year-old Jamie, who, as a freshman in high school, just wants to fit in with everyone else. And in his mind, that means not being gay. When one of his fellow classmates finds out his secret, Jamie throws himself into hiding who he really is, which means hanging out with the beautiful Celia Gamez, and stealing a new drug that is supposed to "cure" homosexuality. But as Jamie continues to take the drug, and his relationship with Celia starts to become serious, he's not so sure if hiding his true self was the right thing to do in the first place.
The second book was Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger. This book follows the story of John, a junior in high school who has seemed emotionally detached from the world since his parents' divorce when he was younger. He never really felt a connection with anyone, until he met Marisol, a fellow zine writer and "Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Lesbian." They connect over their writing, their dysfunctional families, and dreams of escape, but John mistakes their growing closeness for love. Through his relationship with Marisol, John comes to find out how hard love can actually be.
First of all, I enjoyed both of these books, probably Hard Love more so than Love Drugged just because I thought it was a little better written. And I thought that they both portrayed things that actually happen to teens, especially teens struggling with their sexuality. They also did a good job of showing that LGBTQ people struggle with the same sorts of things that heterosexual people do, relationship wise, and I think that is good for teens to see.
While there wasn't much that I didn't like about Hard Love, there was one thing that bothered me about Love Drugged. I think the portrayal of gay characters in Love Drugged was a little stereotypical, and I wish that the author would have worked a little harder at the end to disprove the myth that being homosexual is a disease that needs curing. While the reader generally gets that idea at the end of the novel, I thought it could have been done a little better.People who are gay don't need to be cured, they need to be accepted, and I think the author could have worked a little harder to really get that point across to readers.
Overall, if you're looking for straight/gay relationship stories, I think these two books would be a good place to start. They definitely both do a pretty decent job at exploring the different things that can happen to straight and gay friends, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to read a good LGBTQ novel. Until next time, happy reading! :)